Into autumn. All summer I was drawn to the cold sea at Brighton. I went into it, became accustomed and stopped flinching. I began to understand how people did this all year round, and why. It shocks the body into a kind of alertness – wakes it up. On one of the colder days there was just me in the sea and a woman in a pink rubber bathing cap, the kind you don’t see any more. There was a faint smear of matching pink on her lips. I pictured her applying it earlier, preparing for her date with the sea. She had English sea-blue eyes. She said, I like to do this until December, but I don’t like it so much when the boys have gone. She meant the lifeguard who sits in the small enclosure made of deckchair material, between the yellow and red flags. Lifeguards are there from May until October. The other person on the beach was an old man, very thin, a little bent but sprightly, and he hopped over the stones barefoot as though all of him was used to this and at home there. Stones no longer cut his feet, his skin was tough enough to withstand the wind and the rough sea only made him stronger. I was there with M.E. and my clutch of auto-immune diseases, pretending to be like them. Later I would have to balance the benefits against the after-effects.